...can possibly find out how far one can go.
Yesterday was my first race of the year and a goal race. I ran the Mercer Island Half Marathon. I was a little worried about hitting my goal, a PR (previously 1:36:58), because I was sick and missed 3 days of running the week before race week.
Logistics were a little crazy too. The race is only about an hour from my house. But...it is on an island big enough for 1 lap to be 13.1 miles long. Take that size and add spectators, volunteers and 4500 runners...yeah...traffic nightmare. A gal on rwol told me she had to get out of her car on the freeway exit ramp to make it to the starting line on time! That being said, I left my house at 6am for the 9am start. My little sister and mom came to watch me run. We got there around 7 and were able to park in the main lot, less than a quarter mile from the start. We then sat in the car for an hour since it was windy/rainy outside (luckily the rain stopped for the race). I happened to glance at the car next to us and noticed its sole occupant was none other than Maniac #1! I thought it would be cool to race against him. More on that in a bit.
I was excited to see what I could do. I wore my favorite Nike running shorts, a long sleeve shirt (bad idea) and my new LunarRacer2's. I decided against a watch. Ususally I love having a watch during a race, especially my forerunner. It really helped my pacing during my first marathon. However, I thought it would hinder me at this race. I wasn't sure what kind of shape I was in. True, I had ran 20 miles in a week where I should have ran 40 but I had also pulled out some awesome training runs. I had a hunch I was in a bit better shape than my goal pace, 7:20. Had I worn the forerunner, I would have slowed when I saw any pace faster than 7:20.
Feeling a little ambitious, I lined up at the front of the 7:01-8:00 pace group. I cruised through the first few miles. Somewhere between mile 2 and 3 (I think, didn't see a mile marker until mile 5) I heard a few women talking about expected/goal times. One of them said something about 1:40. What? Guess I'm in the wrong group. I kicked it up a notch for a few miles. I moved from group to group, drafting where I could and pushing to close gaps to faster groups. I did this with a few other runners until about mile 8. That's when I saw Maniac #1. "Man, it would be sweet to beat him" I thought. I was a little tired from my tactics up to that point. The rolling hills and cambered roads had taken some toll on my legs.
Around mile 12 (or maybe it was 11), there was a nasty uphill. It wasn't too steep or anything, but after 10+ miles of rolling hills it seemed more daunting. I felt like I was crawiling up it! The nice part was the long downhill afterwards. I used it to catch, and pass Maniac #1! After that I tried to hold my pace on a short flat section before the final uphill, which peaked about <200 meters from the finish. I was shocked when I saw the clock as I came over the hill, 1:32:xx! What?!? Where did that come from? I didn't care, I was excited to PR. My last half PR was my first one back in 2005.
Today I saw the official results:
129th of 2137 overall
8th of 47 age group
I was/am super happy with the results. Who wouldn't be happy with a 5:06 PR? I'm going to attribute the race success to higher mileage and more speedwork/tempo runs. I'm definitely ready to start training for Portland, a much flatter course. I think I might need to change my goal from sub-3:45 to sub-3:25.